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Down in the Davydenko’s…

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Originally published on: 14/10/10 12:10

Nikolay Davydenko has long been a model of consistency, but for much of 2010 the trait has been nothing but an antonym for the Russian, who again crashed out in the early rounds yesterday.

The 29-year-old’s 6-4 7-6(3) defeat to the little-known Mischa Zverev in Shanghai will impact heavily on his world No.6 ranking given that he captured the Masters 1000 event last year.

Davydenko has slipped way out of contention for a place at the Barclays ATP World Tour finals – a far cry from a year ago, when he lifted the coveted title after a superb spell of form in London.

Even before he walked out on court for his second round match in Shanghai, the Russian openly ruled out any likelihood of a place: “I know I will not qualify for London this year [so] just enjoying now my last couple tournaments what I play this year and take rest before early, just practising, preparation for the next season in December.”

Acknowledgement of defeat replaces the huge promise he showed at the start of 2010, where he quickly backed up his end-of-season success in Shanghai and London with victory in Doha. Wins over the very best saw him take out Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to claim the title.

These highly impressive displays brought unfamiliar attention to a quiet, unassuming man who has been on the tour for over a decade. Suddenly the watching world began to appreciate his talents – somewhat odd for a player who reached No.3 in the world (in 2006) without any of the fuss cultivated by the majority of other top-ranked players.

Such was his form at the end of 2009, some even touted the 20-time tour titlist as one of the favourites to capture the first Grand Slam of the year.

Unfortunately for Davydenko, his Melbourne dream ended in four sets when Roger Federer avenged his back-to-back losses to the 28-year-old in the last eight.

Since then, life has been fairly miserable for Davydenko. Despite a semi-final appearance in Rotterdam in February, he’s reached just three quarter-finals.

Fracturing his wrist in Rotterdam certainly didn’t help his cause and after missing Roland Garros and the three clay court Masters events, the Russian is yet to return to top gear.

And now with the World Tour Finals out of Davydenko’s sights for another season, the enigmatic Russian will make the most off his extended off season before re-building for 2011.

Consistency, something that has long been his trademark, is now his target.

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